In the realm of Nigerian land administration, few legislations have had as much impact as the Land Use Act of 1978. Promulgated by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime on 29 March 1978, his revolutionary piece of legislation has shaped the country’s land tenure system, impacting millions of Nigerians and their relationship with the land they inhabit.
To gain deeper insights into this act, we sat down with a seasoned Property Lawyer, Oluseyi Busari, who has extensive knowledge in land law and the overall legal landscape.
We’ll look at the features of the land use act, its advantages and disadvantages as well as other key provisions and implications.
Q: Could you briefly explain what the Land Use Act of 1978 is and why it holds such importance in Nigeria?
A: The Land Use Act was enacted to regulate land ownership, control, and management in Nigeria. It was introduced in response to the challenges posed by the time’s complex and fragmented land tenure system. The Act gave the government ownership of all land, making the governor of each state the trustee of all land within that state.
This Act is significant because of its impact on property rights and land transactions. It established a framework for land allocation, use, and control with the goal of encouraging efficient land management, preventing speculative practices, and ensuring equitable distribution of land resources.
Q: How has this Act impacted land ownership and transactions in Nigeria?
A: Under the Act, individuals cannot own land in the traditional sense but can only hold a “Certificate of Occupancy” (C of O) issued by the governor. The C of O grants the holder the right to use the land for a specified period, typically 99 years. This system aims to facilitate better land administration, curb land speculation, and protect the interests of both the government and the citizens. In practice, this means that anyone interested in acquiring land in Lagos State must first obtain a C of O from the governor.
Q: Could you highlight some of the key features of the ACT?
A: The four major issues it addresses, includes: The problem of lack of uniformity in the laws governing ownership and land-use; the issue of uncontrolled speculation in urban land; the question of access to land rights by Nigerians on equal legal basis; the issue of fragmentation of rural lands arising from either the application of traditional principles of inheritance or population growth and the consequent pressure on land.
Q: What are some of the key challenges or controversies that have emerged due to the Land Use Act?
A: The Act has indeed sparked several debates and controversies over the years. One significant concern is the difficulty and time-consuming process of obtaining a C of O, which can be a bureaucratic and cumbersome endeavor. This has sometimes resulted in delays and frustrations for landowners and potential investors.
Additionally, the Act has been criticized for concentrating vast powers in the hands of the governor and limiting the rights of individuals to freely transfer or develop their land. It’s been argued that this can hinder economic development and discourage investment.
Q: What would you say are some of its advantages?
A: The Act ensures that anyone in need of a land for any purpose gets access to it, whether for farming, residency or commercial use. It has also reduced boundary disputes and the number of court cases of land ownership since the survey of acquired land is mandatory for occupancy rights to be granted.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Seyi, for your valuable insights on the Nigerian Land Use Act. It has been enlightening to gain a deeper understanding of this significant legislation.
A: You’re welcome. It was my pleasure to discuss this crucial topic. I hope our conversation contributes to a broader dialogue about the future of land administration in Nigeria and leads to positive changes that benefit all Nigerians.
In conclusion, understanding Nigeria’s Land Use Act is critical for both current and prospective landowners. To navigate the challenges posed by land grabbers, fraudulent agents, and the various professionals involved in land acquisition, it is critical to understand the complexities of this significant legislation. Understanding the Land Use Act and its implications can help you avoid unnecessary complications and ensure a legitimate and successful land acquisition process in Nigeria.